We’re not going to pretend like we don’t love Alpina’s work. The new 2022 Alpina B8 Gran Coupe is a stone-cold stunner. In fact, we’d go so far as to call it the ultimate BMW, despite the fact it’s not really a BMW. For those of you who have yet to realize Alpina’s greatness, here’s a quick primer. This tiny family-run outfit — still based in a series of small workshops in southern Germany — hand-builds some of the best, most exclusive cars money can buy and yet it’s still a relative unknown. Alpina makes far fewer cars than Ferrari or Aston Martin does. Its cars and SUVs are all based on BMWs, but Alpina is no back-alley tuning shop. The company is classified as a manufacturer, and yet its headquarters in Buchloe, near Munich, still have the ambiance of an old-world coachbuilder. The workshops smell of resin and oil and experience.
Here’s why we think the 2022 Alpina B8 Gran Coupe deserves to be recognized as BMW’s rightful flagship, despite the fact it is not actually a BMW.
Anybody with deep enough pockets can go into a BMW dealership a lease a 7 Series or an X7. There’s nothing wrong with that; they’re the obvious choices when money is no object and being pampered is a priority. But to choose the Alpina B8 over those two, or the outwardly-similar M8 Gran Coupe, is a choice. You’ve got to know what you want. That, combined with the fact only a handful of B8 Gran Coupes will ever even land in Canadian BMW dealerships, means you’ll almost never see another one on the road, let alone on your neighbourhood.
Rides like cashmere
Honestly, we’ve got no idea how Alpina does it, but their cars always have a buttery ride-quality even on terrible roads. Given the massive 21-inch wheels that wouldn’t look out of place on a donk, you’d think the B8 would ride like a horse-drawn carriage. But it doesn’t. Alpine reworked BMW’s suspension setup, fitting Eibach springs, stiffened sway bars and strut mounts, but that doesn’t really explain why the car rides so well. It’s like rolling on cashmere, all the potholes are somehow softer.
Opening up the throttle feels like turning on the afterburners, just point the car at the horizon and watch in awe as the earth as sky rush toward you. Alpina fettled the motor, and just about everything else on the standard-issue 8 Series. Alpina’s crack team of engineers turn BMW’s 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8 into a behemoth with 612 hp and 590 lb-ft of torque behemoth. (It’ll do 0-100 km/h in 3.4 seconds, and that number feels conservative.) For reference, the M8 Competition Gran Coupe has a few more horsepower but 37 fewer lb-ft of torque. Long story short, both cars are fast, but the Alpina feels more mature, more relaxed in the way it delivers speed, making it better suiting to the daily grind of city traffic, highway commutes and trans-continental blasts. And, yes, the B8 comes with xDrive all-wheel drive and you can get winter tires for it.
Silky Lavalina leather is an Alpina exclusive, and among the best you’ll find in any car. Here in Canada and the U.S., the full Lavalina interior — available in Europe and Japan — is off limits, but at least we get the hand-stitched Lavalina steering wheel, plus some unique colour and trim choices. Every time you put your hands on that steering wheel, you’re reminded this is no ordinary BMW. (And, just in case you forget, there are Alpina badges everywhere.)
The B8 is over five-metres long, with a low roofline that makes it look custom, and certainly not like any other factory-built German land yacht. Alpina’s signature green metallic paint gives the car a certain understated class. At $159,900 – plus another $10,000 for the B&W stereo and extra leather trim – the Alpina is no bargain. BMW’s 7 Series is a statement piece, and the M8 Gran Coupe will turn heads, sure, but the Alpina B8 leaves bystanders doing a double-take, wondering what sort of automotive exotica just wafted past. Well, now you know.